How To Get Your Cat To Stop Begging For Food – 12 Easy Tricks That Actually Work
If your cat is anything like my 18-pounder cat, Charlie, then you might be annoyed everyday with your cat begging for food every time you get up. Here are 12 ways on how to get your cat to stop begging for food. But first thing’s first.
First, Check That Your Cat’s Not Sick
Could it be that your cat has a health-related issue? The first thing to do to address this behavior is to rule out any health-related issues.
For instance, if your cat has worms or other parasites in their gastrointestinal tract, that might be the reason why your cat is always “hungry,” since the food that he/she eats is feeding the parasite.
Has the begging always been the case or was there a sudden change in his/her behavior? Was it an effect from a change in his/her environment? For example, did you change his/her food? Did you introduce a new member to the household (whether a human or an animal)?
If there weren’t any changes in his/her environment and your cat started begging for food out of nowhere, then it might be worthwhile taking your cat to the vet to rule out any health concerns.
Why Do Cats Beg for Food?
If it’s not a health-related issue, there are basically 4 other reasons why your cat might be begging for food.
- Your cat might actually be hungry because he/she’s not getting fed a nutritionally balanced diet. Has your cat lost weight recently? Are you following the feeding guidelines on the back of the food package?
- Your cat might be bored out of his/her mind and the only thing your cat can think of is to eat. If you find that your cat excessively licks him/herself, then this might be the case.
- Your cat has had a taste of delicious food that you eat, and cat food is not satiating his/her taste buds.
- Your cat might have just developed a habit to beg and eat, because you’ve been responding to his/her begging.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Begging for Food – 12 EASY Tricks that Actually Work
Finally, what you’ve been waiting for. The 12 ways to get your cat to stop begging for food! Some of these I’ve employed myself, so I know they work on MY cats. But while some of these tricks may work for some cats, they may not work on others.
But remember that to condition your cat, it’s just like humans where you need a few weeks for an activity to become a habit, so be patient and try them out.
I started the list with the trick that worked the best for me in getting Charlie to stop begging for food. I’ve ranked the rest of the tips in the order that works best to least in my experience.
1. Stick to the Feeding Guideline to Provide Balanced Nutrition
I know a lot of cat owners do not bother to read the feeding guideline instructions on the back of the food package. I’m guilty of having done that when I first got Nala and Charlie as well.
It’s weird, because I just never even thought to check the back. At first, I left the bowl of dry food out for them to free feed. That’s when I was a complete beginner in raising cats. Then, I think I was watching Jackson Galaxy videos one time and he said never free feed your cats.
After that, I did more research, and I learned to do the most basic simple thing, which is to read the back of the food package for the feeding guideline! How did I ever miss that?!
But ever since I started the habit of looking at the feeding guideline, it’s put my mind more at ease since I know my cats are getting a nutritionally balanced diet, and my cats’ hunger has been more satiated.
All decent cat food brands have the feeding guideline on the package for an average weight cat and also a guideline for a cat that is on a diet to lose weight.
For example, here is the feeding guideline for Royal Canin’s Maine Coon dry cat food.
Charlie, my gentle giant Maine Coon mix, is 18 pounds and is super lazy with very low activity. Our vet told me he is slightly overweight and needs to go on a diet. As such, I would feed him ¾ cups of this dry food a day.
Another example is the feeding guideline for Instinct Raw Boost dry food.
For Nala, who is about 9.5 pounds and should be about 8.5 pounds as her target weight, I would feed her between ⅜ cups and ½ cups. So with a ⅛ measuring cup, I would give her a “generous” measure of three of those ⅛ cups throughout the day at her feeding time.
By following the feeding guideline, you’re ensuring that your cat is not begging for food because he/she is nutritionally deficient.
2. Mix Water in the Wet Food
Following the feeding guideline instructed on the food package is important. Once you’ve implemented this, the best trick I’ve used that works effectively is to water down the wet food.
I feed Charlie & Nala wet food for dinner only and dry food for breakfast and other times of the day. As soon as Charlie is finished his wet food dinner, he’ll immediately start begging for food again.
So, as a trick to make him feel more full than he actually is, I started mixing the wet food with water. I mixed in enough water to the wet food that it was quite soupy.
This worked to curb his hunger for longer. But he inevitably went back to begging for food.
Hence, I broke up his wet food portion into 2. The first dinner was half of the wet food mixed with water. Then a couple of hours later, I feed him the second dinner, which is the other half of the wet food mixed with water.
Although this is more work for you, it does work to stop your cat from continuously begging for food.
This is a very effective way to get your overweight cat to lose weight.
3. Trick Your Cat with Chicken Stock or Bonito Flakes
Not only are bonito flakes a great source of nutrients for your cats, it’s very low in calories. So, again you can trick your cat to think he/she is hungry by mixing bonito flakes in water which gives off the smell of real food.
You can leave out this watered bonito flakes for a few hours, so that when your cat’s hungry, he/she can go and nibble/sip on it.
The other similar way to trick your cat to think he/she is “eating” is to give it some chicken stock. You can give the organic chicken stock that’s already made or you can mix in some of the boullion cube of chicken stock with water. Again, you can leave this out for a few hours, so your cat can go take a sip when he/she feels compelled to beg for food.
This is also a fantastic way to put your cat on a diet if he/she is overweight.
4. Use Automatic Feeder to Feed Small Frequent Meals
You want to train your cat that begging does not equate to food. Ideally, the food will be dispensed when your cat is not expecting it. That way, your cat gets food even when he/she doesn’t have to beg. Especially when he/she doesn’t beg.
Additionally, if your cat inhales his/her food at every feeding time and then expects more, break up their food into smaller portions. By breaking up their meal into smaller frequent feeding times, you are controlling when your cat eats.
However, you can’t be bothered to feed your hungry hungry hippo every hour or two. This is when an automatic feeder is very useful.
You need an automatic feeder that has the function to program multiple feeding times and various feeding sizes. Check out the automatic feeder that I use here. You can program up to 12 feeding times in a day and I can change the amount of feeding.
5. Fiber-Rich Food
Another way to get your cat to feel more full is to feed him/her a fiber-rich food. The fiber will expand in their stomach and make them feel satiated, preventing them from begging for food.
My vet recommended Royal Canin’s Satiety formula. The “Satiety” means that the cat’s hunger will be satiated. This formula is rich in fiber, so my vet said that Charlie would feel less hungry and therefore beg for food less.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a max 1% fiber content in cat food. The fiber recommended is only 1% because cats are carnivorous, so as meat eaters, they don’t typically eat fiber nor can they digest it.
But fiber is still a good source for domestic cats, because it prevents diarrhea and it’s helpful in making your cat feel full.
Most cat food has about 4% of fiber content in the food if you follow their feeding guideline. Royal Canin’s Satiety formula has 16% of fiber. Other brands that are fiber-rich will also have fiber content of more than 10%.
Again, the fiber is not necessary for your cat’s nutrition. In fact, they can’t digest it. What it is good for is to help your cat curb their hunger because the fiber expands in their stomach and makes them feel full.
As such, fiber-rich food is good to help stop your cat’s begging for food.
6. Time Out in Another Room
Giving your cat a time out when he/she begs for food is temporary, but the more you do it, the more you condition your cat to think that begging leads to a time out.
This works quite well for me with Charlie. I feel heartbroken when I do give Charlie a time out, but I don’t think he feels sad like I do.
When Charlie meows with such desperation, looking up at me with his head cocked to its side, I put him in my bedroom and close the door. I’ll hear a few meows but then after about 10 minutes, he stops.
When I go in the room to get him after 10 minutes, he’s happy to see me and purrs. I think by that time, he forgets that he was begging for food 10 minutes prior.
7. Interactive Food Dispenser
One tricky way to get your cat to enjoy his/her food for longer so that he/she isn’t begging for food constantly, is to feed via an interactive food dispenser.
Any kind will do, but the ones I use are the ball with holes around it and a large tray for dry food. Another good one is a maze-type of tray.
So instead of eating all the food in 5 minutes, they can be at this game for a good 10-15 minutes to get to the food.
You can use the interactive food toys for some dry food in between the regular meals. I don’t use the interactive food dispenser method for regular meals. I only use it in between meals or after dinner.
You can fill it with treats, but treats tend to be quite high in calories, so I actually put the dental dry food in the food dispenser ball.
8. Fresh Running Water
This method works temporarily, but it’s not a be all, cure all. Nala learned how to drink water from the faucet. And then Charlie watched his sister to it and now they both only want to drink fresh, running water.
Yes, they are spoiled!!
Anyway, now when Charlie begs for food, I take him to the faucet and turn on the water. Most of the time, he will drink the water. After that, he forgets that he was begging for food. Or he’s full from the water that he doesn’t want food.
But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, he doesn’t want to drink the water. Or, sometimes when he does, he will remember that he was begging for food and resume. Worth giving it a try for your hungry cat!
9. Feeding Station in a Secluded Area
I don’t mean you should hide your cat’s feeding station. But here’s the reason why I listed this as a trick I use.
My cats’ feeding station is right by my kitchen. I’m constantly getting up to go to the kitchen for water or food to munch on. As I do, Charlie follows me and begs for food right there, where both my feeding station and his feeding station is.
Then I realized, if I have Charlie’s feeding station in a place I don’t frequent as much as the kitchen, he won’t think that I’m walking over to his feeding station to possibly give him food.
Unfortunately, my apartment is quite small, so I don’t really have a “secluded” place per se that I don’t frequent. But even the bedroom where I don’t frequent as much during the day is better.
10. Condition Your Cat to Think Begging Equals Hugs and Kisses
Whatever your cat associates begging is, anything but food will help him/her understand that begging doesn’t get what he wants.
For me, I always love hugs and kisses from my cats, so I started conditioning my cats to think that meowing excessively means I will pick them up, give them lots of hugs and kisses, and put them back down.
This confused the heck out of Charlie at first. He squirmed to get out of my embrace.
But after a while, he began to understand that begging had its consequences.
I haven’t successfully conditioned him yet to associate begging with only affection, but he’s become more accepting of it. And after lots of kisses, I put him down and he will often go, “okay fine…” and then go to his nap area.
11. Distract with Playtime
One of the ways to stop your cat from meowing for no reason is to have a routine that your cat is used to. For example, playtime → food time → grooming time → and sleep time.
But if you have a cat that is forever hungry on your hands, this can be hard to do, which is why this method to get your cat to stop begging for food is ranked last.
From my experience with my beggar, Charlie, it doesn’t work as effectively as the above methods.
When Charlie starts begging, I dangle his toy in front of him, but he’s a persistent guy. He doesn’t budge from his position, continuing to look at me with desperation in his eyes.
One of Charlie’s favorite toys is the laser pointer, so two out of ten times, it works. You’ll have to pull out their favorite toy for this maneuver.
12. Fetch with Treats
This method is also excellent for how to get your overweight cat to lose weight. I introduced this trick recently after messaging with another cat lover on Instagram. I had posted an IG story of Charlie being lazy and always wanting food. And the person I was messaging with said Charlie should work for it. And, that got me thinking…
So, what I started doing was I have a small handful of his dry food and I would call his name, and when he comes, give him a treat. Then, I throw one treat across the room and he runs over to it and eats it.
After a few times, his running turns into walking, and then a few times after that, he plops down and his hunger is satisfied that he doesn’t beg for food anymore.
I suppose this is similar to the previous method of distracting your cat with playtime. But a treat during playtime gives your cat an incentive to forego begging for food and play, because he/she knows they’ll get a treat out of it. This is great method that I’m really good I introduced, and I’ve been doing this everyday. Try it for yourself!
Don’t stress too much if you’re annoyed with your cat begging for food nonstop. Believe it or not, if you stick with some of the methods above, your cat will learn not to beg for food endlessly anymore.
You can distract your bored and hungry cat with their favorite toy. Or you can be coy and trick them with high-water or high-fiber content food to make him/her think they’re full. This includes mixing their wet food with water or feeding them bonito flakes with water.
And you can always rely on technology to help you by feeding them small portions frequently with the automatic cat feeder.
Remember, be persistent and control your cat! Don’t let your cat control you! Erm, good luck with that though!